Honolulu PD using robot dog for homeless health check

Honolulu’s police department first drew national media attention when Civil Beat reported it had spent $150,045 in federal funds earmarked for pandemic relief on Spot. At a presentation to city council last year, Honolulu PD explained that Spot would be used to patrol the Keehi Lagoon Beach Park homeless encampment in the city and, more specifically, would be used to take the temperatures of unhoused people living in encampments as an initial COVID-19 screening.This means that people living in the encampment would have regular initial screenings not with a human but with a dog-shaped robot under the guise of keeping cops safe from homeless people who potentially had COVID-19.

“As far as law enforcement goes, I would be so bold to say it’s the most innovative program in the nation,” officer Mike Lambert of the Honolulu PD said during the city council meeting. “And during the pandemic, no one has ever heard of another law enforcement agency trying to provide shelter and overnight services for the unsheltered.”

According to Lambert’s presentation, the $150,000 robot could potentially save the police department thousands of dollars a day. His 90-day estimate of cost savings put the number somewhere between $117,000 and $242,760. He based this number, seemingly, on what he would have to pay an officer to take the temperatures and also built in an estimate of what he’d have to pay an officer to quarantine for 14 days should they be exposed to COVID while taking temperatures.

The article is detailed and crap writing obviously upset (1) at a robot getting the gig and (2) doing exactly what the coppers said they were going to do with it.

I didn’t realize there was snob appeal in looking down at both coppers and robots.

Mush, Spot, Mush!

❝ an ominous video titled “Mush, Spot Mush!” posted on YouTube Tuesday, robot maker Boston Dynamics showed off the sheer strength of its SpotMini quadripedal robot dog. The clip shows 10 specialized Spotmini derivatives called Spotpower hauling a box truck across a parking lot — and at a one degree incline.

❝ The robot maker announced in 2018 that it will start selling SpotMini robot dogs to the public this year. The 66 pound robot can climb stairs, cross a wide variety of different terrain and carry 31 pounds…

What exactly those applications will look like and how much a Spotpower will go for is still unclear. But it’s an incredible feat of strength and agility that sets the bar for future commercial robots.

Actually, we buy our dog’s favorite dog food at Tractor Supply. Is that supposed to be an omen of Things To Come?

Boston Dynamics’ new quadruped Wildcat — Woo-Hoo!

Boston Dynamics, the company behind DARPA’s most advanced legged robots such as PETMAN, BigDog, and Atlas, has unveiled the free-roaming version of their sprinting robot Cheetah. The new robot is called WildCat, and it’s already galloping at speeds up to 16 mph on flat ground.

Boston Dynamics is participating in DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, which seeks to build robot systems that can move quickly in natural environments. To that end, it first developed a prototype called Cheetah that broke all speed records for legged robots last year. Cheetah was capable or reaching 28 mph (45 km/h), but it was tethered to an external power source and had the benefit of running on a smooth treadmill while being partially balanced by a boom arm. At the time, Boston Dynamics said it was working towards a free-running version of the robot, but it wasn’t until a few hours ago that they finally blew the lid on it.

WildCat not only gallops, but can bound and turn circles as well. And, when it loses its footing during the demonstration and nearly flips over, it comes to rest with all four feet on the ground not much worse for wear. Being that this is still fairly early in its development, the quadruped’s powerful motors don’t so much purr as scream, but as we’ve seen with Boston Dynamics’ other robots they can dampen the noise later. For now, its work is focused on getting the robot up to speed.

Dig it. They haven’t worked hard at any level of miniaturization either – as far as I can see. Going to be an awesome critter, someday.